The leader of Islamic State (IS) is reportedly still alive, and planning a disturbing new mission.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is speculated to have died or been badly injured countless times in recent years. However, the Washington Post reports that the Islamic State leader hosted a meeting in eastern Syria in mid-2017.
A captured IS official gave insider details about the mysterious gathering in a statement broadcast on Iraqi television.
"Several top leaders were present, as well as the curricula committee, which I headed," Abu Zaid al-Iraqi said of the meeting held near the city of Deir al-Zour.
Chillingly, the purpose of the gathering which was called personally by Baghdadi himself was to discuss rewriting IS' educational curriculum.
US counter-terrorism officials believe that with the defeat of IS looking imminent, the group is now focused on indoctrinating children who will keep its ideology alive - even if the caliphate's enclave in Iraq and Syria is destroyed.
These suspicions were confirmed by a self-proclaimed IS operative, who spoke to the Washington Post via an encrypted messaging service.
"The leadership is convinced that, even if the State has disappeared, as long as they can influence the next generation through education, the idea of the caliphate will endure," said the anonymous man.
He said Baghdadi, a former university professor, has prioritised the brainwashing of children and recruits since early on in IS history.
Through the indoctrination of young minds, the unnamed operative said "the values of the caliphate would be seeded in the Umma [Islamic community], and not disappear even if the caliphate would."